Taylor Contarino Bare Minimum

Taylor Contarino Shows Her Artistry is More than “Bare Minimum” on Latest Single

Authentic singer and songwriter Taylor Contarino takes on the music industry with her latest release, “Bare Minimum,” out April 19, 2024. The small-town artist moved from South Jersey to Los Angeles and is currently pursuing her education and dreams. She is a lover of all things that revolve around music. Taylor is authentic in showing her vulnerability through her music and who she is as a person. She is an inspiration and the definition of an artist in every way.

Taylor Contarino
Bare Minimum
Photographer credit: Karly Ramnani

Q&A with Taylor Contarino

POETRY DANS LA RUE: How did you first become interested in music, and what inspired you to pursue a career as a musician?

Taylor Contarino: “I had a passion for music from a very young age. My mom would always play Eminem through the ups and downs of life. It provided constant comfort for her through the trials she faced with my father. I’ve had a deep love for music since my childhood and started attending concerts at a young age. During the pandemic, I began using my time to write about music, especially about 90s hip-hop music. I created a hip-hop music blog my freshman year, while living in New York. After creating my blog, I ended up getting more opportunities in music, and eventually, after working with a couple of independent labels and opportunities, I landed at Universal Music Group.”

PDLR: Can you tell us about your songwriting process and where you draw inspiration from for your music?

Taylor Contarino: “My musical process…I love making music! I could cry over how much I love it. It’s literally my outlet. I don’t see it as a thing I have to do but rather as a thing I get to do. Being able to take words and make them sound pretty or using my voice to say how I feel is the greatest thing ever!

Like yesterday, I was freaking out because I’m realizing that I’m graduating college in a month, and I’m going to have to become a big girl, you know, and I’m really scared about that. I’m going to have to be an adult. I’ve started writing how I feel about that. My creative process comes from moments like that, where it’s like I’m in the moment, and my emotionality takes over.

“It’s when I am at my breaking point that my music starts to evolve.”

That’s what I love about music; if I can’t turn to anything else or anyone else, I can always turn to my piano. I can always turn to Logic, like my software. I can always turn to my notes and write down how I’m feeling. It’s like I can turn my heartbreak into healing and my pain into beauty. Yeah, I sound like a poet, but I love that.

I also wrote a poetry book, which I released in the fall. Writing means a lot to me. Being able to express how I feel, letting it resonate with people, and making it sound beautiful means so much to me.”

PDLR: What do you enjoy most about playing in front of an audience?

Taylor Contarino: “Oh, I hate being in front of an audience. I’m crying because I love that you asked me that question, but I hate being in front of an audience. I have to force myself to get in front of an audience. I know that’s so weird, but it’s so scary. I’d rather be sitting in my room making music. But on the contrary, I know that it’s an important part of music. Performing is a part of being an artist. Every single time I perform, I’m getting stronger.

I have this thing where whenever something scares me, I force myself to do it. What’s the alternative? To hide from it my entire life? I’m a firm believer that if something scares you, you have to do it. Every time I get on stage, I’m conquering my fears, and I’m really just taking ownership of my body, words, voice, and the way I feel. I know that the more I perform, the better I’ll get at it. I don’t think practice makes perfect, but I do think practice makes progress.”

“Bare Minimum” Coming Soon

PDLR: Can you talk a little about your upcoming single, “Bare Minimum?”

Taylor Contarino: “Of course, I’m so excited! On April 19th I’m dropping ” Bare Minimum” part one, the single. It’s all part of a story from my last couple of months. The whole EP drops on April 26th, one week later from the release of the single. I purposely made it this way because I wanted part one to be a description of the things that I’ve been going through and the way I have been feeling. Part one, “Bare Minimum,” was written and made to be more emotional. Part two is going to be more of an anthem for healing and moving on, more of a motivating piece of music.

The whole EP intends to tell my lived experience and what I went through over the past couple of months with a relationship I used to be in. I’m really excited about the project and am so excited for the world to hear it. I’m just grateful to God. I can’t believe that I’m really putting an EP out because there was a time when I had given up on music for a long time.”

PDRL: What do you hope listeners take away from your music?

Taylor Contarino: “The only thing I ever wanted was for listeners to be heard, seen, and represented. That’s really all I have ever cared about. If people listen to my music, then that’s great. But for me, no matter what, I was able to use the creation process to heal through experiences the music refers to.

All the music that I make is real. The things that I’m saying actually happened. My mom never let me lie growing up. She always said, ” I would rather you say that you did something crazy than lie to me.” Growing up, if I went to a party, my mom would rather I call her and tell her I did something stupid than lie. My mom was heavy on the “Don’t lie to me,” just tell me how it is and be 100% honest.”

Future Collaborations and Music

PDLR: Are there any future projects or collaborations that you’re excited about?

Taylor Contarino: “Yes, I have so many. I’m so grateful! I’ve been working on so much music recently. I have four songs that I am currently working on and that I can’t wait to share with the world. I have a song called “God’s Business.” It’s a song about finding out that my grandpa has cancer. Sorry, not to get depressing, but we are working through it. There’s another song I’ve been working on with an incredible producer and talented bassist/guitarist called “Deadbeat.” It’s about my drug-addicted father.

Currently, I’m also working on a love song and another song about hating the club. I went two weeks ago, and I wrote a song called “I’m Over the Club.” I realized that I really don’t like going to the club. Why does it have to be so loud? I don’t know when I’m going to release these songs yet, but I’m very excited to share them with everyone.”

PDLR: Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians looking to break into the industry?

Taylor Contarino: “Of course! Don’t give up! If you never give up, you can never lose. My advice to anybody is to just keep going. I wish that I could have told myself this two years ago when I gave up on music; I wish someone were there to tell me not to give up. If you give up, what’s the alternative? What are you going to do? You’re going to be sad, and you’re going to regret it every day. Honestly, that’s how I was feeling. That’s why I continue to make music.

I also had a friend who sent me a long paragraph. Actually it was more like she wrote a book, basically, on why I should continue making music, which is the reason that I started doing it again. I love her, and she’s amazing! Her name is Rachel, and she’s one of my best friends. I am so grateful for her!

I would just tell people to keep going on their dreams because you never know when there’s going to be motion. You never know when you are going to succeed. Even if you don’t have a million streams, you are still a musician because you are making music. Don’t let the numbers, social media, or anyone tell you that you can’t do it. As long as something makes you happy, then keep doing it. Don’t be afraid to say how you feel.”

PDLR: How long have you been releasing music in general and professionally? 

Taylor Contarino: “Since my sophomore year of college, about two years ago. That’s around the time I also gave up on music because I felt like I wasn’t good enough. I felt scared of people reacting to my music and thinking I wasn’t good enough. That’s when I realized that it doesn’t matter if people think I’m good enough as long as I think I am. It’s about how I feel and how I perceive myself.

Once I changed my perspective, I was able to enjoy the artistic, creative process and the healing process. I am open to collaborations and working on art with other people. Everything I do is because of the love I have for the art.”


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The Dream X

The Dream X: Exclusive Interview with the Genre-Bending Artist

Latin American reggaeton rapper The Dream X takes the globe by storm with his infectious singles “Tijuana” and “BLA BLA” ft. Monaleo. The Salt Lake City-based artist sits down to chat about growing up as a classically trained opera singer to blending various genres in his recent project. With over 350,000 streams on “Tijuana” and no stopping in sight, fans of Bad Bunny, Jack Harlow, The Weeknd, or MGK will want to pay attention now.

The Dream X

Q&A with The Dream X

POETRY DANS LA RUE: How long have you been releasing music in general, and professionally?

The Dream X: “I started releasing music in 2020, but more so as a hobby, not necessarily as a professional career. Back then, the releases that I put out were mainly opera. Being classically trained in opera helped with melody building and lyrics. Going into music as a profession has always been a dream, so being able to do it now as an artist feels surreal.”

POETRY DANS LA RUE: After listening to your singles “BLA BLA” and “Tijuana,” I love the contrast between the two with the languages and the styles.

The Dream X: “I wanted to do something different with the two. “BLA BLA” is more culturally significant. I wanted to break the language barrier between these two countries to bring my music to different people. Even if people don’t understand everything, it joins English and Spanish together. We made “BLA BLA” with Monaleo, a hip-hop sensation, so we were very excited to have her featured on the song. She’s definitely a lyrical genius.”

The Dream X on Influences & Dream Collabs

PDLR: What genres or artists do you consider your main influences for songwriting?

The Dream X: “I have a lot of artists that I look up to to create the sound that I have. I love Bad Bunny, The Weeknd, and Post Malone; there are a lot of influences that go into it.”

PDLR: Any artists who are under the radar that inspire you?

The Dream X: “There’s an artist I follow who makes these beautiful beats. I listen to his music, and it makes me feel like I want to make something with the same energy. I work with him as well, so it’s great to feed off of that. His name is Michael Piroli.”

PDLR: Who would be your dream artist to collaborate with?

The Dream X: “I have an entire list of people I’d love to work with! My #1 dream collab would have to be Machine Gun Kelly. The second person would be Feid. Others would, of course, be Bad Bunny and Swae Lee…”

“Drama” Coming Soon

PDLR: Can you talk a little about the next single that is coming out?

The Dream X: “I’ve been working on a lot of music. The song that we are planning to release next is called “Drama.” It’s also very different from the previous two; it’s partially in Spanish with more English. I combine four different genres on this track. It’s a mix of pop, moombahton, reggaeton, and rap. It’s set to release this month.”

PDLR: What advice do you have for young indie artists or artists who are just starting their journey?

The Dream X: “Don’t give up because many people will discourage you. People will tell you you’re losing money and pouring money into it, and that it won’t pay off, etc. Which is true, but it’s worth it in the end. Dream big, work hard, and make it happen. If it’s your dream and what you want, go for it. You’ve only got one life. It’s up to you if you’re going to leave a legacy or leave a mark on this world.”

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Ryan Hommel Daisy Jones

Daisy Jones Music Director, Ryan Hommel, Releases First Album in 8 Years

For the past two and a half years, Ryan Hommel worked alongside the cast of Daisy Jones & The Six as the guitar/bass coach and Music Director. Yes, that means he taught cast members like Sam Claflin and Riley Keough to play guitar and become a band in the hit series for Amazon Prime Video. Through the ups and downs of the pandemic and the steadfast dedication of the production team and cast, Daisy Jones & The Six came to life in 2023.

Ryan Hommel, a Massachusetts-based guitar player, songwriter, and singer, recently released his first album since 2015. Default To Open is the second full-length album from Ryan, dating back to 2016 when he recorded these songs. The lead singles from this album showcase his raw talent and knack for penning songs that resonate with a wide range of music fans. Gaining insight into the stories behind these songs makes the album all the more intriguing to hear them after eight years.

We had the pleasure of chatting with Ryan Hommel to learn more about this collection of songs. In the past eight years, Ryan welcomed a lot of changes. Of course, the pandemic delayed the filming of Daisy Jones & the Six, but the time spent with the cast solidified his journey as Music Director. After touring with Amos Lee’s band as a guitar and pedal steel player, Ryan welcomed a baby girl earlier this year. Going from uncertainty to fatherhood has led Ryan to new endeavors, beginning with the release of Default To Open.

Ryan Hommel Daisy Jones

Ryan Hommel Interview

POETRY DANS LA RUE: You seem to be all over recently with Daisy Jones & The Six, your music, and your family. What’s the backstory to where you are now?

Ryan Hommel: “I’m originally from Massachusetts. My wife and I met here and decided to move to L.A. together. We lived in L.A. for about four years, which included the time during the pandemic, then we moved back to Massachusetts when we found out we were expecting a baby. Now we have a five-month-old daughter.”

PDLR: So I saw your album, Default To Open, was recorded in Nashville. Can you talk about that time in your life?

Ryan Hommel: “We recorded the album almost entirely in Nashville at Blackbird Studio. I used to drive a lot from Massachusetts to Nashville. I wanted to absorb the world of country music that I didn’t grow up in. Being surrounded by that community, I became passionate about playing pedal steel and met many people in the music industry.”

Behind Default To Open

PDLR: You recently released “Bury Me” and “All the Time in the World” as the first two singles. Can you talk about why you led the album with those songs?

Ryan Hommel: “When I listened to the whole record, those songs popped out to me as singable. I love songs that you can immediately sing along to. It makes listeners feel the song is familiar and they’ve known it forever. I’m not saying these songs achieved that necessarily, but most of the record doesn’t come close to doing that. Some other songs are more exploratory, longer, and experimental in songwriting. “Bury Me” and “All the Time in the World” felt like a good way to introduce the record to new ears.”

PDLR: I’ve had more time with the singles, of course, than the other tracks, but I do agree. “Bury Me” has been in my head a lot. It is singable and maybe more melodic, which people can easily pick up on. I also picked out “Wide Open” from the other songs, which was a little longer. It was more in-depth, and I liked the direction it went.

Ryan Hommel: “That’s great to hear because “Wide Open” is the first song I ever wrote. Default To Open is made of songs like that. It was my first experience putting these songs together from different times. Default To Open has been finished for eight years, since 2016. It almost feels like a compilation album, putting pieces of my writing together but only from a decade ago and earlier. The most recently written song on the record is the last track, “Brent Song.” I wrote this as a friend of mine passed away eight years ago. So the album comprises pieces of my life from before until 2016.”

“From an archiving standpoint and gaining a new perspective with my daughter being born, it matters that these songs are out there.”

Ryan Hommel: “I’m glad you responded to “Wide Open.” It feels surreal to me that that song will be in the world. From an archiving standpoint and having a new perspective with my daughter being born, it matters that these songs are out there. It’s also cathartic and rewarding to know that my daughter will be able to find that.

Sitting on these songs and having more time to reflect gave me an extended perspective. I feel more lighthearted about the record and less attached to it as a whole, but it’s a point in time that paints one picture.

I’ve done a lot of touring and come across so many songwriters. I’ve had more time to absorb how artists perform, interact, and adapt. You can interact with your art in many ways, and people will find their meaning once it’s out there. Art and music breathe new life into other people, and they breathe new life back into it.”

PDLR: Do you have a specific song that was the most rewarding to write or that you hit exactly what you were trying to convey?

Ryan Hommel: “I think “Wide Open” came out exactly how that song should be presented. Even if I’m unsure what that means, I’ve never felt that after recording a song. “Wide Open,” “Bury Me,” and “All the Time in the World” were songs that I recorded by setting up a guitar and vocal with a drummer in another booth at Blackbird.

All of the vocals on this record are primarily live, with the main guitar layer and the drums. Filling in the blanks with bass, other guitar parts, pedal steel, and keyboard was rewarding. It was me supplementing the barebones tracks we had from the recordings. I felt proud of “Wide Open” from the initial performance and what it was after we finalized the production.

In the song “Same Side,” the album’s third single, I played everything from top to bottom. “Same Side” occurred at my friend Ryan Ordway’s studio in New Hampshire. I went in with this song and planned to record it in a day. I started with an acoustic guitar and a vocal and added drums, bass, some other guitars, and pedal steel. Going in with a blank canvas like that and sitting back and listening after a day is a satisfying feeling.”

Musical Influences

PDLR: Who were some of your musical influences growing up, or who inspires you in your music?

Ryan Hommel: “My dad introduced me to a lot of guitar-based music as a young teenager. He was trying to get me out of my Stevie Ray Vaughan fixation at that age. He bought me a Steely Dan, a Jeff Beck, and a Robben Ford record. The guitar playing was nothing like what I was listening to at the time. My dad tried to show me that while Stevie Ray was excellent, there was another world of guitar players.

Before that, the music in my house was Stevie Wonder, Aretha, and Elvis Presley. Those were my first music memories, along with Ray Charles, Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Holly, and Howlin’ Wolf. My favorite current band has been Dawes. They are my gold standard in writing, performing, playing, and overall class and evolution.”

Daisy Jones & The Six

PDLR: How did you come into your role with the Daisy Jones series, and what was it like working with the cast?

Ryan Hommel: “So when my wife and I moved to L.A. at the end of 2019, I got a call from Tony Berg. He is an incredible producer and one of my producer heroes (Andrew Bird, Phoebe Bridgers, boygenius). I met him the year before, and he kept telling me to move to L.A. When we decided to move, he called me and said he had a two-month gig to teach guitar and bass to a handful of actors. The actors would come together and make this fictional band known as Daisy Jones & The Six from the book by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

At the time, Blake Mills and Tony Berg were running Sound City Studios in L.A., where many iconic artists have recorded. The show signed Tony as the Music Consultant for Daisy Jones & The Six and Blake Mills as the Executive Music Producer. Blake Mills wrote or co-wrote and produced all of the music for the soundtrack (alongside collaborators Tony Berg, Phoebe Bridgers, Taylor Goldsmith, Marcus Mumford, and Chris Weisman, among others). A huge bonus was the proximity to and the use of Sound City. The reality of the songwriting process and location mimicked the book’s storyline. So, plugging this fictional band into that time period and space was so surreal.

“The initial call was to have Daisy Jones & The Six be a fully functional band. If you put them on stage, they should be able to play this music flawlessly.”

I was set up across the street with Frankie Pine, the Music Supervisor, and a handful of other music coaches (drums, keyboard, vocal). We were working with the cast across the parking lot from Sound City. I was teaching Riley Keough (Daisy Jones), Will Harrison (Graham Dunne), and Josh Whitehouse (Eddie Roundtree) at the time, which was January 2020. Sam Claflin (Billy Dunne) came in around when everything shifted because of the pandemic.

They kept us remotely working on Zoom to keep the band learning. The cast members needed help learning their instruments and focusing on their characters’ roles, so most of that was done individually. Because I had been doing that, working with them collectively as a band made sense. So that’s how I fell into the role of Music Director for them as a band. Enter Suki Waterhouse (Karen Sirko) and Sebastian Chacon (Warren Rhodes), and we had Daisy Jones & The Six.”

Ryan Hommel Daisy Jones
Ryan working with Riley Keough (Daisy Jones)

“The initial call was to have them be a fully functional band even though they will be miming to recordings on the set. If you put them on a stage, they should be able to play this music flawlessly. That was a tall order, but everyone did their best and committed to the role.

Before we finally started shooting after the delay, we gathered the band at SIR in Hollywood for a private showcase. The showcase included everyone involved in making the show, like Taylor Jenkins Reid (book author), the Hello Sunshine media crew, Scott & Lauren Neustadter (creator), Reese Witherspoon (executive producer), Amazon, all the music crew, and more. It was particularly humbling to be a part of something that massive.

They absolutely achieved their goal, and they played the songs. They pretty much played the AURORA record front to back. Nabiyah Be (Simone) sang “A Song For You.” It was remarkable to see it pay off after keeping it going for so much longer than expected. They can all play and sing and have a natural chemistry that you can feel in the room.

My role transitioned into being on set with them whenever music was on camera. It was such a thrill to be there and coach them through those scenes. They were driven, motivated, and dedicated to learning to play music together, which certainly shows.”

PDLR: That’s incredible to hear your perspective. When reading a book, you envision how it will look. But then there was the uncertainty of not knowing if the show would happen or when. So when you hear it from you, it’s cool to see they came together as a band and learned it. You can see the realness in the show and the chemistry that you mention.

Daisy Jones Ryan Hommel

Looking Ahead For Ryan Hommel

PDLR: What’s next for you after the release of Default To Open?

Ryan Hommel: “The last record I put out was in 2015, and I began writing Default To Open around the same time. Of course, all these years have passed, and life has changed significantly. I’ve taken myself off the road to be with family and raise my daughter with my wife. I want to be present.

Releasing this record is putting me back in the game of how the industry works today. I’ve aided many people or worked on other records as a producer but haven’t put myself out there in a long time. I thank Greg Hall for running the backend of the album release and managing this campaign.

We hope that this album sets me up for future releases. I’ve already started working on the next record, which is more rooted in my life now, becoming a father and what family has come to mean. I enjoy getting the word out there and connecting with people in the music industry.

Ryan Hommel Ghost Hit Recording
Ghost Hit Recording Future Home of the 1 to 1 Sessions

After releasing this record, I’m starting a new live in-studio video series. It’s something similar to Daytrotter or Audiotree. This project would be about working with new artists that I usually wouldn’t have the chance to, but they are coming through town on tour or local to this area.

The idea is to bring them to Ghost Hit Recording studio in West Springfield, MA, where I often work. The studio was built into this church from 1800, and the live room is the sanctuary with the original pipe organ. It’s just a place where you feel especially compelled to make music. I’d love to bring in artists as a stop on their tour and cut some live footage, very minimally mic’ed. It’s going to be called the 1:1 Sessions. It’ll be a YouTube channel and a website.”


Be sure to check out Default To Open, available on all streaming platforms. Keep up with Ryan’s endeavors on social media and follow the 1:1 Sessions on Instagram and YouTube.

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